Pride WS – In The Name Of Love
Almost 50 years ago, the police raided the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Stonewall Inn was a known hangout for the LGBTQ community and the raid sparked a movement. There is a direct line from this moment to the Pride events of today.
In a recent conversation with Kandi Villano, the Vice President of Pride WS, she remarked on how far we have come over the last 50 years. She’s making plans now to attend the 50 year anniversary celebration scheduled for New York City in 2019. World Pride is going to be held in NYC as well next year, ensuring this will be an enormous event.
“Pride WS has been growing every year. When we created Pride WS six years ago we had about 5,000 attend the event. Last year we broke 20,000!” said Villano. When asked what contributed to the significant growth, Villano replied, “Having Nissan come on board as the Presenting Sponsor was huge. In fact, when they called us last year to inquire about being involved, I thought we were being spoofed. How often do you get a call from an international company asking to participate in your event in WS?” she asked with a chuckle.
Nissan has committed to being a part of this year’s event, Saturday, Oct. 13th in Downtown, WS, in the Arts District. The City of WS and Visit WS are also contributing along with over 120 vendors who will be set up along the festival footprint on Trade Street. The weekend begins Friday night as the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel hosts the official Kick Off Party starting at 7pm. The festivities continue the following morning with the Pride Parade at 11AM. A Food Truck Rodeo featuring some of the area’s finest will give participants excellent food options.
“I am particularly pleased with the fact that all of our vendors are local. Not only is this a Pride event, it’s a very local event!” said Villano.
The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel Stage at the corner of 7th and Trade Streets, will be rocking with a host of acts from local bands Genuine and Evan & Dana as well as the Triad Men’s and Women’s Chorus. The headliner, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing at the Cardinal Hotel Stage as well as at the Official After Party being held at the Hawthorne Inn. The Kinsey Sicks is a self described A Cappella, Comedy group from Los Angeles. America’s Favorite Dragapella® Beautyshop Quartet is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year and we are privileged to have them in WS for Pride.
When asked if Pride WS is expecting to see the same size crowds this year, Villano remarked, “No, I expect to see it grow again. Since Stonewall we’ve seen a change in attitude toward the LGBTQ community. When I was growing up, being gay wasn’t accepted. Our world has changed. We now have equal protection under the law. We now have the right to marry. The younger generations are much more accepting than their grandparents and we expect this trend to continue.”
The theme of Pride WS 2018 is “Building Community.” Villano added, “Many in the community feel our biggest battles are behind us. We’ve gotten the rights we’ve fought so hard to achieve. But we cannot
stop there. Suicide rates among teens in our community are still very high. Bullying still happens every day. We cannot be complacent. Yes, we’ve won the big battles. Now we have to continue the work and forge relationships across lines of difference and strengthen not just the LGBTQ community but our larger community as well. We all live here together. We are your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. What affects you affects us as well. Pride isn’t just a one day event and then we fade back into the shadows. No, it’s an all year, every day thing.”
Any surprises in store for Pride WS 2018? Villano said they were surprised by a late addition to the line up. “Progressive Parents has contacted us and want to be a part of Pride. They will be there to give hugs to attendees. They believe, like we do, that everyone deserves to be loved. We’re thrilled to have them this year.”
Check out their website at www.pridews.org for information on Pride Week Events, including the Festival on Oct. 13 &14 for Pride WS 2018!